Texas Football: Four Reasons the State of Texas Needs to Stick Together
College football is on the brink of monumental changes, again and still.
There is no blame game here, just reality. And it says that the greatest sport of all the collegiate athletics will undergo a transformation in its conference alignment that will forever change how we approach college football.
The SEC, the ACC, the Pac-12 and the B1G all have been beneficiaries to realignment, embracing or soon to be embracing new universities into its families.
Unfortunately for the Big 12 and the Big East, that may ultimately mean dissipation.
The Big 12, which harbors four universities from the state of Texas, has been at the center of instability. With Nebraska and Colorado leaving for the B1G and the Pac-12 respectively, and Texas A&M seemingly on the way towards the SEC, there isn't much that can hold the conference together.
In recent memory, it has been Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M at the vanguard of the conference in terms of winning tradition and prestige. With the Aggies looking to jump ship and Oklahoma seeking out a move westward, the state of affairs in Texas appear volatile.
Here are four reasons why the Lone Star State needs to stick together.
High School Football
In Texas, high school football is king, and there really is no other royalty in the throne room.
According to a study by the National Federation of High School Sports, the state of Texas produced 345 Division I scholarship players, tops in the nation.
Many of these student-athletes have grown up supporting the likes of Texas and Texas A&M, among others, for the very same reason a kid from the Southeast would grow up supporting the likes of Florida and Alabama: regional ties.
By formulating a conference realignment that would see the Aggies playing in the SEC and Texas playing in the Pac-X, the sense of regional ties effectively disappears, along with the Big 12.
The rivalries between Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas Tech have become saturated over time. High school football players in the future may not see these four teams duke it out on an annual basis, thereby ripping apart the regional claims that college football currently maintains.
Darren Carroll/Getty Images
The easy answer to why the state of Texas needs to remain intact is tradition.
Texas and Texas A&M are easily the breadwinners when talking about college football in the state, and both programs are on a collision course for opposite coastlines.
One would be hard-pressed not to find a high school football player ready to enroll at Texas or Texas A&M, or even Baylor and Texas Tech for that matter, who could care less about playing an in-state rival.
There are simply no traditions tied to a Texas A&M-Alabama matchup or Texas-Stanford game.
As exciting as realignment sounds, it would be breaking a one of the foundations of college football: tradition.
Leaders and Followers
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
We've talked about Texas and Texas A&M being at the forefront of any conversation concerning college football in the state of Texas.
While those two state institutions are the leaders, Baylor and Texas Tech are the followers no matter which way the dice is rolled.
Although Tech is in the conversation to follow Texas westward, Baylor seemingly may be left out in the dust.
There is a sense of pride about football when one comes to Texas, and to send one university eastward (A&M) and a couple more westward (Texas, Tech), that ultimately leaves Baylor between a rock and a hard place, aching to be picked up by a non-BCS conference like the Mountain West or Conference-USA, hardly the ideal situation considering the Big 12 arguably was a powerhouse conference not five, ten years ago.
There are leaders and there are followers. For the state-run institutions, the government has tried to keep everything level-headed, but Texas A&M was eager to jump. Baylor, on the other hand, is a private institution and has had its hand forced.
Tech looks to be taken care of, as a follower typically would benefit, but the Bears have no such luxury.
Students and Their Families
Harry How/Getty Images
Traveling takes a toll on the student-athlete.
A high school football player most of the time considers location when determining where he will play his college ball.
A player's family will want to watch the games.
By realigning to the east and west coasts, we are not just talking about coaches and student-athletes traveling thousands of miles to play football games. Their families, too, must consider how necessary it would be to journey half-way across the country and jump a time zone or two to watch their son play football.
College football, for most programs, has always been about creating a family atmosphere, where comfort, reliability and trust are paramount.
Dramatically changing the landscape puts all of that in relative jeopardy.